Denials Mean Nothing
“I have great respect for (that school) and the rich history and tradition they have. But I’m proud to be the head coach of (this football team) right now and all the hard work we’ve put into this program to get to this point and have the success we’ve had. That’s where my focus is.”
That quote was attributed to a head coach of a top-25 program just recently. Most media outlets reported that as a denial of interest in a top head coaching gig. Read closer and notice he never flat-out denies interest. But does it really matter?
The Texas Longhorns are looking for a new football coach, now that Mack Brown has made it official and resigned over the weekend.
So who is the next coach in Austin?
The facts – everyone is on the table, despite contract extensions and denial of interest. Everyone has a price, and that’s all these contracts are – money. Texas has it and will pay any fee to get the coach they want, should he desire to come to Austin.
The list (with the official Vegas odds on some of these names going to Texas from Bovada):
Nick Saban (Alabama): He agreed to an extension on Friday (thanks to the Texas interest that was buzzing the internet last week). Says he never has considered going to Austin, and I believe him. Not happening (says Capt. Obvious). Chances he comes to Texas (on the Reverse Barometer scale of 1-10): 0.oo1 (so you’re saying there’s a chance…)
Jim Harbaugh (SF 49ers): Harbaugh turned Stanford around, but is an NFL guy. He denies any interest in the Texas job. He is many Texas fans’ top choice behind Saban. You never know, but I don’t see it. Barometer scale: 1
Art Briles (Baylor): Briles just signed a 10-year extension in November. He has not commented one way or another on the Texas job. Briles seems to be the perfect fit for this job, knowing the state landscape and proving he can win anywhere. Keep this one on your radar. Bovada (LV) official odds: 9-2; Barometer scale: 5
David Shaw (Stanford): Shaw has led Stanford to the last two Pac-12 titles. He has a 34-6 record in three seasons with the Cardinal. An ESPN report says he will be staying at Stanford. There are still rumblings that he will remain hunted by the Texas brass. Bovada (LV) official odds: 12-1; Barometer scale: 3
Gus Malzahn (Auburn): Guided Auburn to the BCS National Championship Game in his first season at the helm. Signed a six-year extension two weeks ago. He says he’s happy in Auburn. Barometer scale: 2
Charlie Strong (Louisville): Has a 36-15 record at Louisville in four seasons with two Big East titles. He recently denied interest in the Texas job. Bovada (LV) official odds: 2-1; Barometer scale: 8
James Franklin (Vanderbilt): A favorite of ScoreBoard as a candidate, Franklin has led the Commodores to bowl games in each of his two seasons and has done wonders at Vanderbilt. He has deflected every question about the Texas job. Bovada (LV) official odds: 5-1; Barometer scale: 7
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State): He flirted with Tennessee last year, so he might be interested. Gundy has led OSU to eight consecutive bowl appearances. He has not commented on the Texas job. Bovada (LV) official odds: 7-1; Barometer scale: 6
Bill O’Brien (Penn State): Has experience in both college and the NFL. Won ESPN’s National Coach of the Year award in 2012. He’s had interest from several NFL teams. Bovada (LV) official odds: 15-2; Barometer scale: 4
Jim Mora, Jr. (UCLA): The Bruins have won nine games in each of his two seasons. He has deflected questions in the Texas job. Bovada (LV) official odds: 10-1; Barometer scale: 4
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State): Has done a solid job with Florida State, leading them to the BCS Title game. He agreed to a contract extension two weeks ago. Bovada (LV) official odds: 10-1; Barometer scale: 2
Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles): Left Oregon before sanctions hit last season. He has an 18-month show cause in the NCAA due to those violations. He claims he hasn’t spoken to anyone nor will he. I trust this guy like I trust a used car salesman. Kelly ain’t coming to Austin. Bovada (LV) official odds: 12-1; Barometer scale: 1
And that’s just the top candidates we know about. Texas is not expected to target a current coordinator, otherwise Clemson’s Chad Morris and Alabama’s Kirby Smart would be on this list.
Barometer has learned (through our stealth sources of big money alumni, bartenders, fans and people in the grocery store) that Texas has started the process by simply reaching out to the representatives of a long list of possible candidates and gauging their interest with a simple “yes or no” poll. Those that say yes will be considered; those that say no will be crossed off.
Most agents will say yes, because it is their job to get their client the most money and the best job offers to maximize their value.
It’s going to come down to which top candidate wants the job, and that alone filters out a bunch of names.
Barometer is going to predict that Texas’ next coach will come from one of these four candidates: Art Briles, James Franklin, Mike Gundy or Charlie Strong.
Even though Briles just signed an extension at Baylor, he is the perfect fit, both football-wise and alumni-wise. Orangebloods would salivate at bringing the Baylor offense to Texas.
Franklin is the hot coach at the small academic school. But guess what? He wins. At Vanderbilt. He has not confirmed nor denied any interest, an indication that he will always listen.
Gundy is the wild card here. He can recruit and he knows the Big 12. Gundy is a known name and Texas is a bigger stage that OSU. Plus he’s a pretty good dancer.
Then there’s Strong, who has recently denied interest in the Texas job. He would be a good fit as well, as he has made a name for himself in a short period of time.
There are lot of denials of interest in the job out there right now, but that amounts to a hill of beans at the end of the day. Remember the quote at the top of our story? Here is the complete quote, with all of the blanks filled in:
“I have great respect for USC and the rich history and tradition they have. But I’m proud to be the head coach of the Washington Huskies right now and all the hard work we’ve put into this program to get to this point and have the success we’ve had. That’s where my focus is.” – Steve Sarkisian
Sarkisian was named as head coach at USC a couple of weeks later.